March 8, 2024 | Samantha Henman

The Weirdest Attractions In Every State


50 States, 50 Attractions

Going on a road trip through the US? Lucky you—there’s no better place to spot the world’s weirdest and coolest roadside attractions. We’ve found the most bizarre attraction in every state, so buckle up—it’s going to get wild.

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The New Mexico Mystery Stone, New Mexico

If you’re interested in weird roadside attractions, happen to be passing through New Mexico and have already seen all that Roswell—which is so much more than just an attraction—has to offer, no worries. There’s still the New Mexico Mystery Stone, located on a mountain off a tribal road in Los Lunas, NM.

Los Lunas Decalogue Stone - 2007Brainardo, Wikimedia Commons

AKA: The Decalogue Stone

The stone features a—you guessed it—mysterious inscription in an unknown language, which might be a lost, alternative form of Paleo-Hebrew or Cypriotic Greek. Early accounts place its discovery in the 19th century. Some believe it says the Ten Commandments, though no one has proven this theory definitely. Perhaps you can be the first to decode it!

Los Lunas NM Decalogue Stone with first line vandalized - 2006HuMcCulloch, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Oregon Vortex, Oregon

Forget the Bermuda Triangle. If you’re driving around Oregon and happen to be around Gold Hill, you have to check out the Oregon Vortex—a “a strange world where the improbable is the commonplace and everyday physical facts are reversed”.

House of Mystery at the Oregon Vortex - 2006Granger Meador, Flickr

The Oregon Vortex House Of Mystery

The owners of the Oregon Vortex claim that it contains a spherical field of force, and that it has a history of paranormal phenomena. The Vortex is home to the crooked House of Mystery, an Ames room-type structure that forces optical illusions like objects rolling uphill and peoples’ relative heights changing.

Oregon Vortex Shack - Gold Hill - 2016Denise Chelini, Flickr

Bishop Castle, Colorado

You don’t need to travel to Europe to see a medieval castle with your own eyes—you only need to travel to the San Isabel National Forest to see Bishop Castle, a 160-foot tall structure with multiple towers, a drawbridge, catwalks, and even a fire-breathing dragon. It’s impressive for many reasons—including the fact that it was built by one man.

Bishop's Castle in San Isabel National Forest - 2015Peter Ciro, Flickr

The Bishop Behind Bishop Castle

The structure was built by Jim Bishop, who originally bought the land for $450 when he was just 15 years old. He began building on it in 1965, and took over 40 years to build it. Much of that was spent in battle with the government, over the rocks he took from the surrounding national forest to build it.

Bishop Castle - 2013Texas Tongs, Flickr

The Georgia State Capitol Building, Georgia

What’s so weird about a state capitol building? After all, every state has one right? Offices, legislative chambers, yada yada yada—well, the Georgia State Capitol Building has something that other state capitol buildings don’t. It contains stuffed, conjoined calves, with two heads on one body.

Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta, GA - 2019Warren LeMay, Wikimedia Commons

The Conjoined Calves of the Georgia State Capitol

The calves were born in Palmetto, GA, in 1987 and came to the capitol building along with a collection of other taxidermied animals. Though the other animals have since been removed, the calves proved too popular and stayed on.

Closeup of a two headed or two faced brown calf, cowBilal Kocabas, Shutterstock

The International Cryptozoology Museum, Maine

Portland, ME isn’t just home to a cryptozoology museum. It’s home to the world’s ONLY international cryptozoology museum. But wait—what’s cryptozoology? It’s the study (though some might say pseudoscience) of unknown, lost, or extinct animals whose existence is disputed. This encompasses folkloric creatures like Bigfoot, the Lock Ness monster, and the Chupacabra.

International Cryptozoology Museum - 2014Scott Beale, Flickr

More Than Lions and Tigers And Bears, Oh My

Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman opened the museum in 2003, and it houses more than 3,000 artifacts relating to cryptozoology—from documents and photographs to fecal samples from cryptids, and full-sized models of cryptids, like my personal favorite, the jackalope.

International Cryptozoology Museum - 2014Scott Beale, Flickr

World Records of Casey, Illinois

One of the most classic roadside attraction genres in North America has to be “World’s Largest [insert object here]”. And while it’s rarely worth it to go out of your way to see just one, you can save time by visiting Casey, Illinois—because they’ve got a whole collection of ‘em.

Casey, Illinois - Stephen, Flickr

World’s Largest Collection Of World’s Largest Objects

Casey, Illinois is home to a giant mailbox, giant birdcage, giant wind chime, giant golf tee, and giant rocking chair, among other giant objects. The chair, for example, is 56 feet tall. And the best news of all? They’re all located quite centrally in Casey, so while the objects are big, your mileage won’t be.

Casey, Illinois - Stephen, Flickr

Chicken Farmer Rock, New Hampshire

One rock, six words, and one whimsical story: it’s the Chicken Farmer Rock on Route 103 in Newbury, New Hampshire. Painted on a granite rock face in, appropriately enough, the Granite State, is a rudimentary mural with white words on red paint declaring “CHICKEN FARMER, I STILL LOVE YOU.”

CHICKEN FARMER I STILL LOVE YOU - rock (2005)Ben McLeod, Flickr

Who Was The Chicken Farmer?

As the story goes, the mural was painted in the 1980s by a young boy who had a crush on the daughter of a chicken farmer whose property faced the rock. While it originally read “CHICKEN FARMER, I LOVE YOU,” it was updated at some point since then. Locals take care of the rock and cut back vegetation so everyone can enjoy it.

CHICKEN FARMER I STILL LOVE YOU - rock (2005)Ben McLeod, Flickr

The Clown Motel, Nevada

Las Vegas. Red Rock. Area 51. It seems like every attraction in Nevada is weird already. But if you want to out-weird them all, forget Circus Circus and drive out to the Clown Motel on Main Street in Tonopah, Nevada.

Clown Motel In Tonopah, Nevada - 2009Andrew Huff, Flickr

America’s Scariest Motel?

Despite its unkind nickname, the Clown Motel is really only scary if you have coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. Okay, and if you have two eyes. While nothing sinister has happened there—that we know of—the sheer number of clowns decorating the facility is certainly…unsettling. This might be one for a quick day trip rather than an overnight stay.

Clown Motel sign in Tonopah Nevada - 2018melissamn, Shutterstock

Winterthur Gardens, Delaware

Perhaps surprisingly, Delaware just might have as many bizarre attractions to choose from as it does historical ones. For an outlandish yet dazzling experience in the state’s biggest city, visit the Enchanted Woods at Winterthur Gardens in Wilmington, Delaware.

Winterthur Gardens - 2008Fred Schroeder, Flickr

The Enchanted Woods at Winterthur Gardens, Delaware

Family-friendly, beloved, and whimsical—three words that have been used to describe the Enchanted Woods. Though the rest of Winterthur is meticulously landscaped, the Enchanted Woods, a fairy-tale garden, takes a more rustic approach. There’s a “tulip tree house,” a “faerie’s cottage,” an “upside-down tree,” and even a “forbidden fairy ring” that envelopes kids in mist when they step into.

Couple stroll among the gardens at the Winterthur Museum - circa 1980sJoseph Sohm, Shutterstock

Crystal Cave, Ohio

Like Delaware, there are a surprising number of weird attractions in Ohio—from the BibleWalk, which repurposes old wax figures like Liz Taylor into biblical scenes—to the Haserot Angel, which seems to weep black tears at a grave site. But one attraction is truly one of a kind: the Crystal Cave in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

Crystal Cave, in Put-in-Bay - 2009Sean Munson, Flickr

Step Inside A Geode

What makes the Crystal Cave so special? Well, unlike other cave sites where the walls might have crystal deposits, when you walk into the Crystal Cave in Ohio, you’re walking into the world’s largest geode. And as a bonus for those of age, it neighbors the Heineman winery, which also offers tours, so you can experience both the sublime beauty of nature and a slight buzz.

Celestite (Crystal Cave, South Bass Island, Lake Erie, Ohio, USA) 46 - 2007James St. John, Flickr

Scarecrow Video, Washington

If you’re old enough to long for a past time when the highlight of any Friday night was strolling the aisles of your local video rental place—the age even before the proliferation of Blockbuster—then a visit to Scarecrow Video in Seattle, Washington is in order.

Scarecrow Video sign - 2006Tesla314, Flickr

The Last Video Store Standing

Scarecrow Video is the world’s largest independent video rental store. The sprawling store has been around since the 1980s and boasts some 130,000 film titles. Unsurprisingly, it has attracted fans like Quentin Tarantino and Roger Ebert during its long lifetime. Just remember, if you’re staying in a hotel or Airbnb nearby and expect to avail yourself of its wares—you just might have to bring your own VCR or DVD player.

Scarecrow Video movie rental store interior - 2008Chiara Coetzee, Flickr

Mothman Museum, West Virginia

In the 1960s, residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia began to report sightings of a bizarre creature with a humanoid body, glowing red eyes, and massive wings. As stories of the “Mothman,” as it came to be known, spread, it became an indelible part of West Virginia culture, as well as the subject of books, TV shows, and movies—including 2002’s The Mothman Prophecies.

The Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, West Virginia - 2018howderfamily.com, Flickr

All Mothman, All The Time

Not only is there a Mothman statue in Point Pleasant, there’s also an annual Mothman Festival. But for a complete Mothman experience, visitors should drop by the Mothman Museum on Main Street in Point Pleasant. The museum’s collection includes newspapers contemporary to the original sightings, toys, and other memorabilia—as well as a gift shop, so everyone can take a piece of the Mothman legend home.

Mothman Statue West Virginia - 2008Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr

The Road to Nowhere, North Carolina

Ever wanted to live in a Looney Tunes cartoon, minus the mortal peril? Well, it’s not quite a tunnel painted on a wall, Road Runner-style—but like that gag, but the Road to Nowhere in Bryson City, North Carolina, is kind of a parable for the best laid plans going awry. When the Fontana Dam, which became the tallest dam in the US, was built in 1941, it was supposed to bring great prosperity to the area—but it also brought destruction and sadness, as nearby towns and homes were flooded out to build it.

Famous road in the park that stops literally in the middle of nowhere - 2011woodleywonderworks, Flickr

Thanks For Nothing

To make up for the damage, a road was supposed to be built connecting Bryson City to ancestral lands and cemeteries. But that promise was never fulfilled—and the small part that was built is now known as the Road to Nowhere. It features a quarter-mile long tunnel that abruptly stops—making it an eloquent monument to the broken promises that the Road represents to locals.

Road To Nowhere - 2009Smoky Dan, Flickr

Smith Mansion, Wyoming

Wyoming is full of natural wonders, from Old Faithful to the Devils Tower to the hot springs at Yellowstone National Park. But if your eyes get a little too tired of all the natural beauty, there’s a man-made oddity at your disposal for a break: the bizzare Smith Mansion in Cody, Wyoming.

The Smith Mansion, also known as the Smith Family Cabin - 2013Jonathan Haeber, Flickr

The Mansion That Took A Marriage—And A Life

The mind-bending appearance is the dominant feature of the Smith Mansion, but it also has a dark history. Builder and engineer Lee Smith first built a relatively simple home for his family--but he found he couldn’t stop there, and kept adding porches and porticos and staircases made from logs he salvaged. Smith’s obsession led his wife to lead him—and years later, he fell to his death while working on one of the upper floors in 1992.

The Smith Mansion just outside Cody Wyoming - 2019Grossinger, Shutterstock

Wall Drug, South Dakota

It’s not a trip through South Dakota without a stop at Wall Drug, the ultimate kitsch roadside attraction. The store, which takes up a whole city block in Wall, South Dakota, is impossible to miss—even if you’re miles away. That’s because it beckons road trippers with billboards promising free ice water and 5-cent coffee. But Wall Drug is so much more than that.

Wall Drug front sign - 2007Runner1928, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Why You Need To Visit Wall Drug

The wonders are endless—from the giant dinosaur outside to the Native art, arcade games, and massive array of stuffed jackalopes inside. It’s not just a stop on your road trip, it’s a day-long activity exploring the many wonders it has to offer…not to mention the that free ice water. They give out about 20,000 cups of it a day.

Wall Drug Dinosaur - 2017Wayne Hsieh, Flickr

The William P Didusch Center for Urologic History, Maryland

Oh, sorry, are giant animatronic dinosaurs and cryptids just not weird enough for you? Well, take a niche interest to the next level at the William P Didusch Center for Urologic History in Linthicum Heights, Maryland.

To the museum (sigh).Lance Bellers, Shutterstock

The One And Only

The William P Didusch Center for Urologic History—say that three times fast—is not only the national urology museum, it’s also the headquarters for the American Urological Association. The museum contains various scientific and objects having to do with urology, most of which aren’t fit to print here. So check it out for yourself…after all, even if you aren’t that interested in urology, it’s free.

Screenshot: Doctor making a surgery in O. Room - from The Sex Change Spitfire Ace (2015)Channel Four Television, Secret History - The Sex Change Spitfire Ace (2015)

Beinecke Rare Book And Manuscript Library, Connecticut

Rare book libraries are usually a guaranteed cool stop—and you definitely wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the one at Yale University is pretty impressive in both its architecture and collection. But the Beinecke in New Haven is also home to one of the weirdest and most mysterious books in history.

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library - 2014Gunnar Klack, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Home Of The Voynich Manuscript

Not only does the Beinecke have a massive collection of rare manuscripts dating back to medieval times, it’s also the home to the bizarre and compelling Voynich manuscript, an illustrated codex written in an unknown script from the 15th century. The Voynich and its mysterious origin and contents have been the subject of fascination and wacky theories since it first came to light.

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library - 2000Onasill - Bill Badzo, Flickr

Titanic Museum Attraction, Tennessee

Thanks to the thriving communities and deep history in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee is a great draw to any music fan, but that’s not all it has up its sleeve. It also has—despite its geographical distance from both its origin site and the site of the crash—the world’s largest Titanic museum attraction in Pigeon Forge. As in, a museum in the shape of a giant fake ship.

Entrance to the Titanic Museum at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA. - 2011Doug Coldwell, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Welcome To The (Other) Titanic

Just 3.33 miles from another great landmark—the Dolly Parton statue—you can walk on board a “ship” whose exterior, interior, and the iceberg it’s about to hit, are all modeled on the infamous RMS Titanic. You even get a boarding pass that assigns you the name of one of the deceased passengers!

Titanic Park - Tennesse - 2018Pom', Flickr

Glore Psychiatric Museum, Missouri

America is littered with the ruins of abandoned psychiatric hospitals—but we, of course, do not condone the illegal exploration of said spaces. If this is something that interests you, save yourself time and trouble by checking out the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St Joseph, Missouri.

St. Joseph Museum - 2008mad mags, Flickr

AKA “The State Lunatic Asylum #2”

The Glore is in a building that used to be part of the State Lunatic Asylum #2, built in 1874. While the original asylum is now a prison—yup, just half a mile away from the museum itself—the old clinic that houses the Glore has exhibits illustrating the history of the treatment of mental illness. That includes the good, the bad, and yes, the very ugly.

St. Joseph Museum - 2018mad mags, Flickr

The Mütter Museum, Pennsylvania

Sure, there are more obscure weird attractions in Pennsylvania, but in the canon of weird attractions, we’d be remiss to excluse the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—the country’s most famous museum of medical oddities.

Mutter Museum ,front - 2015cezzie901, Flickr

Hello Mütter

What do we mean when we say medical oddities? Well, there’s the skeleton of the tallest man ever known to live in North America, a “mega colon” which held 40 lbs of …matter when its owner died, and, controversially, slides featuring slices of Albert Einstein’s brain.

Mütter Museum - 2012Molly Lewis, Flickr

Igloo City, Alaska

While it might not be as easily accessible as the other states on this list, Alaska has so much to explore, from national parks to gold rush historical sites to ghost towns. But once you get bored of that, check out the bizarre structure known as Igloo City in Cantwell, Alaska and get to know its strange history.

Igloo City, Alaska - 2018Jason Ahrns, Flickr

The Attraction That Never Was

Igloo City, a four-story unused hotel in the remote town of Cantwell, started construction in the 1970s, but was never completed thanks to structural issues and failure to meet building codes. Now it sits empty, but does attract visitors for its unique construction. If you think about it, it’s a tourist attraction of a tourist attraction. Meta.

Abandoned Igloo City Hotel - 2010davidd, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Hole N” The Rock, Utah

Speaking of natural beauty, Utah has so much to offer—but when you’re driving between destinations on Route 191 through Monticello, you might just catch sight of giant letters in the distance reading “HOLE N” THE ROCK”. What is it? Well, uh, basically…exactly what it says. And more!

Hole N” The Rock, Utah - 2012arbyreed, Flickr

The Most Unique Home In Utah

The Hole N” The Rock is a 5,000 square foot home built directly in, you guessed it, a hole in a monumental rock face. A man named Albert Christensen built the home in the 40s, which has 14 rooms, massive rock pillars, and shelving, a fireplace, and a bathtub built directly into the rock. It also has a diner, a petting zoo, and is guarded by a taxidermied donkey named Harry.

Hole N The Rock. Utah - 2005Stef, Flickr

Mars Cheese Castle, Wisconsin

Florida has its oranges. Idaho has its potatoes. And, of course, Wisconsin has its cheese. So, what better place to pick up a block of cheddar or Swiss than the impossible-to-miss Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Mars Cheese Castle - 1989Bart Everson, Flickr

Cheese, Please

The Mars Cheese Castle was originally built in the 1950s, and although it did have to leave behind its old storefront in 2011, it has since re-opened in an even more impressive castle-like structure where you can buy Wisconsin’s most famous export: cheese—and its second most-famous expert, the cheese wedge hat.

The new and improved Mars Cheese Castle - 2013jpellgen (@1105_jp), Flickr

Sip ‘N Dip Lounge, Montana

What’s more kitsch than a quintessential 60s tiki bar? Well, how about one with live “mermaids” swimming by? While other tiki bars have closed—and new versions paying tribute to those old favorites have popped up in the past decade—the Sip ‘N Dip Lounge in Great Falls, Montana, is still going, against all odds.

"Mermaids" swimming in the pool of the Sip 'n' Dip lounge - 2008V Smoothe, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Jump In, The Water’s Fine

Opened as part of the O’Haire Motor Inn in 1962—and with a direct view into its swimming pool—the Sip N’ Dip is like walking into the past. The décor, drinks, in-house music, and occasional “mermaid” appearances in the pool make it an unforgettable experience for those who either remember the golden days of the tiki bar—or who wish they were born in a different decade.

Sip 'n' Dip lounge, O'Haire Motor Inn, Great Falls, Montana - 2008V Smoothe, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

UFO Welcome Center, South Carolina

No road trip is complete without a stop at a welcome center. How else would you get your bathroom break, local attraction brochures, and vending machine junk food all at one stop? Well, this welcome center isn’t really mean for tourists. At least not…our kind. The UFO Welcome Center in Bowman, South Carolina, is hoping for those coming from a much greater distance.

Homemade UFO in Bowman, South Carolina. - 2014Holly, Flickr

Welcome To Earth

Built by local resident Jody Pendarvis, the UFO Welcome Center is hard to miss—if not a bit redundant. That’s because its most remarkable feature is a structure that resembles two UFOs on top of each other built out of scrap metal. If the aliens somehow miss that, there’s also the giant spray-painted words “UFO WELCOME CENTER” to guide them in. Once they arrive, they’ll be able to use the best amenities our planet has to offer: a toilet, shower, air conditioning, and a TV.

Homemade UFO in Bowman, South Carolina - 2014Holly, Flickr

Colonel Sanders’ Grave, Kentucky

What better man—or character?—to embody the Bluegrass State than Colonel Sanders, who made up that beautiful blend of herbs and spices and put Kentucky on the map with his delicious fried chicken. Though the Colonel is long gone, you can pay tribute to him at his gravesite in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.

Grave of Col. Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken - 2009Cindy Cornett Seigle, Flickr

Finger Lickin’ Good

There’s just one problem. Kinda. Colonel Harland Sanders opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken in Salt Lake City, Utah. But I digress. What’s important is that Colonel Sanders only started in the restaurant industry at 62, so we all have a second chance to make our mark. And what better way to welcome that kind of luck into your life than with a visit to his grave, featuring a bust sculpted by his daughter.

Col. Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants - 2009Cindy Cornett Seigle, Flickr

Monkey Island, Florida

Far too often, place names do NOT deliver on their promise. For one, Atlantis, Florida, is not actually the lost city of Atlantic, if you were wondering. But, Monkey Island in Homosassa, Florida, does in fact fulfill the pledge in its name—and more.

Monkey Island, Homosassa - 2011Carol Vinzant, Flickr

Monkey Trouble

Maybe they actually named it Monkey Island to lure the monkeys there—because really, it’s more of a monkey jail. The family of spider monkeys that lives on the island was banished there after they caused too much monkey business on the mainland. One can only assume just how bad they were to get their own Australia—but now, you can watch them safely from a distance as they play.

Spider monkeys in forest - 2012Bernard Spragg, Wikimedia Commons

The Gurdon Light, Arkansas

Tired of museums, stores, and historical sites? Well, what about a mysterious floating light that, according to different accounts, is either evidence of paranormal activity or a bizarre electrical phenomenon? You can find the Gurdon Light in the forest near the railroad tracks off Interstate 30 in Gurdon, Arkansas.

Photo of train tracks.Chris F, Pexels

The Gurdon Light And Piezoelectricity

Some believe that the light is the lantern of a rail worker who met a tragic fate on the tracks. Others believe that it is the result of a piezoelectric effect, a natural phenomenon where certain types of ceramics and crystals generate electricity—an effect that’s actually similar to the sparks generated by WintOGreen Lifesavers when they’re chewed in the dark.

The sun peeks through clouds and blowing snow - 2005Steve Wall, Flickr

President Heads, Virginia

Mount Rushmore, Schmount Schmushmore. Why settle for FOUR measly US presidents when you can head to a field in Williamsburg, Virginia, and see giant busts of 42 of them? The closure of Presidents Park in 2010 became a man named Howard Hankins’ gain, when he acquired the sculptures from the shuttered park.

President Heads, Virginia- 2008A.Currell, Flickr

All The Presidents’ Heads

The original artist who created the heads, David Adickes, was inspired to create them after visiting—you guessed it—Mount Rushmore. They lived at Presidents Park for years before its closure, when Hankins saved them from destruction. Each sculpture weighs approximately 22,000 lbs—so you can imagine, saving each one was quite the job.

President Heads, Virginia - 2020Mobilus In Mobili, Flickr

Carhenge, Nebraska

If you’re driving through Nebraska on US Highway 87, take a look for Carhenge—it’s pretty hard to miss. The Stonehenge-inspired structure has far less mysterious origins. It’s constructed of 39 old American cars painted grey. The Carhenge park in Alliance, Nebraska also features other large installation art made of cars—and there’s another unmissable attraction not far down the road.

Carhenge, in Alliance, Nebraska - 2010Richard J Woodland, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Plus: Nebraska Rest Area

Just a few miles north of Carhenge, you’ll find the Nebraska Rest Area. Wait—a rest area? What’s so special or weird about a roadside rest area? Well, this one is a cut above in many ways. The unofficial rest area is open air and features a toilet, which does not flush, and an arm chair atop a large “structure” made of hay. For those who want to heed nature’s call in nature.

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska - 2020Mobilus In Mobili, Flickr

Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, Vermont

We may not live in a monarchy, but arguably, if Vermont were to have a king, it would have two: Ben and Jerry. The ice cream icons began their story in Burlington, Vermont in 1978 before moving their factory to quaint and beautiful nearby Waterbury. The factory is not only open to the public for visits—but they’ve also built a monument to their retired flavors.

Flavor Graveyard, Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour, Waterbury, VT - 2012Adam Fagen, Flickr

The Dearly De-Pinted

Ben & Jerry’s started memorializing their bygone flavors in 1997 before employees started making mock gravestones to commemorate them. There are some 34 flavors that have their resting place there, including Rainforest Crunch, Turtle Soup, and Wavy Gravy.

Ben & Jerry's Flavor Graveyard - Waterbury, Vermont - 2012Doug Kerr, Flickr

Kona Coffee Living History Farm, Hawaii

No road trip is complete without coffee. So why not pay tribute to the nation’s favorite hot beverage, learn about its history, and see how it’s made at the Kona Coffee Living History Farm in Captain Cook, on the big island in Hawaii.

Historic coffee mill at the Kona Coffee Living History Farm, March 2012.Frank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

The Kona Living History Farm is located in South Kona, an area known for its coffee production. The farm pays tribute to the Uchida family, who once lived and farmed coffee on the land. You can see how they used to work and live and visit a coffee processing mill. If coffee’s not your thing, you can also try other activities the Uchida family did at the farm, including making tofu and pickling vegetables.

Coffee bean peeling machine at Kona Coffee Living History Farm - 2017Ekrem Canli, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Da Yoopers Tourist Trap, Michigan

What’s a “Yooper,” you ask? Well, it’s Michigan slang for a person who live in the state’s Upper Peninsula. And since 1975, it’s been a comedy troupe known for poking fun at local stereotypes. They’re so popular, in fact, that they opened their own “tourist trap” in Ishpeming, Michigan—and it’s got a lot to offer.

Tourist trap  in Ishpeming, Michigan - 2004larrysphatpage, Flickr

Welcome To Yooperland

The tourist trap both pays tribute to life on the Upper Peninsula and features the kind of things you’d expect from it’s name—a couple of examples of “world’s largest” (including the world’s largest functioning chainsaw) and a heck of a gift shop with many treasures dedicated to the great pleasures of passing gas.

Upper Penninsula of Michigan. - 2004Kyle Miron, Flickr

The “Real” Cardiff Giant, Iowa

The Fort Dodge Museum in Fort Dodge, Iowa, is pretty standard as far as these things go. It’s a reconstruction of a military fort complete with old buildings like a schoolhouse and a general store. We’ve all visited something like it on a school trip. But there’s one thing that the Fort Dodge Museum has that others don’t: the “remains” of a giant.

The Cardiff Giant at the Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown - 2013Martin Lewison, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

A Giant Hoax

In an era of snake oil salesmen and traveling preachers who talked about an age where giants roamed the Earth, a man named George Hull came up with an idea to make them look like fools. He had a “petrified giant” cast in stone and made money exhibiting it. The giant at Fort Dodge was found buried there a century later, and while Hull’s was fake, some claim this is the “real” Cardiff giant.

An October 1869 photograph showing the Cardiff Giant being exhumed.Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, Massachusetts

If you toward the “eerie” side of weird, there’s no better place to visit than Salem, Massachusetts, a town replete with dark history. But it’s not all witch trials—there’s also Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, where you can walk through a collection of movie monsters from throughout cinema history.

Exterior of Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery - 2023quiggyt4, Shutterstock

Monster Mash-Up

Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery is the brainchild of James Lurgio, and features a veritable pantheon of film’s most iconic monsters. As you walk through, you begin with Count Orlok from Nosferatu, and make your way through the years past the Universal monsters, then the 70s slashers and 80s nightmares like Michael Myer and Freddy Krueger, before meeting some more modern villains. There are some 50 monsters on display, as well as other horror memorabilia.

Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery, 285 Derby St, Salem, Massachusetts - 2013Robert Linsdell, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Smitty’s Super Service Station, Mississippi

Before Chuck E Cheese, there was Showbiz Pizza. Though many of the chain’s locations were taken over by the singing rat known as Charles Entertainment Cheese, diehard fan Damon Breland knew he had to memorialize the chain, and its signature band, the Rock-afire Explosion. And so, he created Smitty’s Super Service Station in Sandy Hook, Mississippi.

Smitty’s Super Service StationDavid Atkins, Flickr

Rock Around The Clock

Breland got a showroom and purchased the bygone animatronic band directly from its creator. The band consists of characters like Dook LaRue, Beach Bear, and Fatz Geronimo. Smitty’s Super Service Station, which is now appointment-only, has been around since 2007, and although you can’t order unicorn churros, there’s way less chance of an errant kid barfing on your shoes.

Dook Larue, Fatz Geronimo, Mitzi Mozzarella, and Beach Bear ready to perform - 2014Jonathan Haeber, Flickr

Unclaimed Baggage Center, Alabama

Have you ever noticed that one bag that no one is claiming just touring the baggage carousel as you wait for your luggage to come out after flying? And have you ever looked back as you exit the area, watching it and wondering what will happen to it if no one comes to get it? Well, consider your question answered: It goes to Scottsboro, Alabama.

Blue suitcase on baggage claim in airport terminal.Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

Forgot Something?

It all started when the owners of what became known as the Unclaimed Baggage Center drove to Washington, DC to claim their first load of unclaimed baggage, hoping to sell it. Over the years, it went from a small business to a storefront that takes up an entire city block—and is a haven for the nosy, who now have the chance to purchase treasures and wonders from baggage that is still left behind after a predetermined search period has passed.

Unclaimed Baggage Center, Alabama - 2010dcwriterdawn, Flickr

The World's Largest Collection Of The World's Smallest Versions Of The World's Largest Things, Kansas

Confused? I’m not sure why—the name is as straightforward as it gets. All sass aside, this attraction makes sense if you think about it. What if someone visited every “World’s Largest X” attraction, then went home and made the tiniest possible version of what they’d just seen? Well, then you’d have the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things, in Lucas, Kansas.

The World's Largest Collection Of The World's Smallest Versions Of The World's Largest Things, Kansas - 2019Granger Meador, Flickr

How Meta

Erika Nelson is the artist behind the miniature giants, and she’s put them all together in a sometimes-open storefront in Lucas. To add an extra level to it all, she does her best to bring her creations back to visit their large inspirations, so she can take a picture of them together. Think about it: You could spend months driving around the US to visit each of these attractions yourself—or visit Erika and see them all in mere minutes.

World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things. This traveling museum - 2009Chris Murphy, Flickr

Marie Laveau’s House Of Voodoo, Louisiana

Unless you’ve already visited the Big Easy, you might not know that there wasn’t just one, but two Marie Laveaus. The first was the original Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, while her daughter, Marie Laveau II, was also an influential voodoo practitioner. Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, pays tribute to them both.

Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo - 2009Kent Kanouse, Flickr

You Do Voodoo

The Marie Laveau House of Voodoo is a museum and shop on Bourbon Street, where you can find a voodoo altar and many other artifacts relating to the mother-daughter duo—but that’s not all. You can also inquire about spells in the back room or have your tarot cards read. There are even rumors that Marie Laveau II’s ghost haunts the place!

Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo in New Orleans - 2006OZinOH, Flickr

Craig-E-Clair Castle, New York

You can’t throw a rock without hitting a weird attraction in New York City—but the Big Apple, is, of course, not all the state has to offer (and it’s not even a big apple anyway). Take, for example, the Craig-E-Clair Castle in Roscoe, New York—an abandoned castle nestled among the Catskills with a strange and mysterious history.

Castle of Sorrow - NY - 2013Forsaken Fotos, Flickr

A Fairytale Gone Wrong

It began innocuously enough, as a summer lodge named after a town in Scotland. But after Ralph Wurts-Dundas bought the land in 1915 and started to construct a castle on the site, it all went wrong. He died, his wife was committed, and his daughter was first the victim of swindlers and later, was also committed. Though the Masons eventually bought it, before they have since abandoned the “cursed” castle.

Castle built in 1924 and no one ever lived in it. - NY - 2013Forsaken Fotos, Flickr

The Thing, Arizona

Arizona is home to two of the most iconic attractions in the USA, which go hand-in-hand: Route 66 and the Grand Canyon. But of course, if peak Americana kitsch and one of the seven natural wonders of the world isn’t enough for you, there’s also the Thing in Dragoon, Arizona. What is the Thing? Well…

The Thing, ArizonaBill Walsh, Flickr

No Spoilers

For miles around I-10 in Arizona, billboards beckon tourists to the visit the Thing. As you approach, signs emblazoned with the words “The Thing What Is It?” implore you to investigate further. Well, in the spirit on the attraction, we won’t be telling you what the Thing is. That’s one you’ll have to find out for yourself.

“The Thing?” in Dragoon, AZ. - 2009Tim Patterson, Flickr

Museum Of The Weird, Texas

It seems a bit on the nose to recommend a “Museum of the Weird” after going through so many weird attractions together, but we’d be remiss to not include Austin, Texas’s Museum of the Weird on this list. It delivers on its promise!

Museum of the Weird - 2011sean hobson, Flickr

Keep Austin Weird

The Museum of the Weird operates on the concept of the dime store museum, popularized by PT Barnum himself. Filled with odd trinkets and objects, the dime store museum invites visitors to debate what’s real and what’s a hoax. Exhibits include a cyclops pig, a two-headed chicken, shrunken heads, and one of Barnum’s favorites: a feejee mermaid, created by fusing a taxidermied monkey and fish.

Furtrout and Jackalope, Museum of the Weird, Austin, Texas, USA - 2017Cory Doctorow, Flickr

Big Idaho Potato Hotel, Idaho

What’s more Idaho than the humble potato? It’s the Potato State. The potato is its state vegetable. Russet potatoes grown in the state are officially designated Idaho potatoes. But honestly, who can blame them? They’re everyone’s favorite tuber. But are you big enough fan to actually stay inside one?

Sack of potatoes on a rustic wooden background.Steve Cukrov, Shutterstock

Potayto, Potahto

Okay, so, you’re not actually be staying inside a real potato. But I’ll be darned if the Big Idaho Potato Hotel in Boise, Idaho doesn’t really look like a giant one. Appropriately enough, it sits in the middle of a mass of farmland. It began as a traveling exhibit before Kristie Wolfe adopted it, plunked it on her farm, and decorated it—making it one of the world’s most unique one-room hotels.

Big potato on the farm - 2008Ian Sanderson, Flickr

Enchanted Highway, North Dakota

Highway driving can get pretty dreary, but not if you’re driving along Highway 21, AKA the Enchanted Highway, in North Dakota. The road there is flanked by large metal sculptures that honor North Dakota’s unique culture—from flying geese to leaping stag to giant grasshoppers to Teddy Roosevelt. And its origin story is as compelling as the art itself.

Metal sculptures by Gary Greff on the Enchanted Highway, North Dakota - 2015russellstreet, Flickr

From School Principal To Artist

During the 1980s, as more and more people left small town life behind, local school principal Gary Greff wondered what would become of Regent, North Dakota. After watching people pull off the highway to take photos of a straw bale sculpture, he came up with the idea to line Highway 21 with fantastical sculptures that would cement Regent as a destination.

Enchanted Highway Pheasants - 2008J24L, Flickr

Buck Atom, Oklahoma

Along the legendary Route 66 as it passes through Tulsa, Oklahoma, Buck Atom is hard to miss. The 21-foot-tall space cowboy towers over the landscape, holding a shiny chrome rocket that reflects the afternoon sun. And while Buck is certainly a singular character, he’s also one of a bygone clan.

Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios, Route 66 gifts - 2019Steve Snodgrass, Flickr

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Before the interstate highways were built, Route 66 was one of the primary roads across the Southwest US. In more urban areas, attractions lined Route 66 hoping to beckon travelers to stop and spend some money. One of the ways businesses caught people’s attention was through giant “muffler men” like Buck Atom—and while many have disappeared, Buck still stands strong.

Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios - 2019Steve Snodgrass, Flickr

The SPAM Museum, Minnesota

Minnesota has no shortage of weird attractions, from a giant Jolly Green Giant (is that redundant?) to a massive ball of twine that the arbiter of weird himself, “Weird Al” Yankovic, wrote a song about. But why stop there? Why not visit a museum dedicated to one of America’s weirdest foods—the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota.

SPAM Museum is a free museum in Southern Minnesota - 2019jpellgen (@1105_jp), Flickr

Don’t Knock It Til You’ve Fried It

This monument to the nation’s favorite meat in a can not only educates visitors about the history of SPAM, but it also encourages them to register as SPAMbassadors. The gift shop features niche SPAM flavors like Pumpkin Spice, and many restaurants in the area feature SPAM-centric dishes on their menu.

Museum of SPAMThe Washington Post, Getty Images

Salvation Mountain, California

Though you may not found salvation there and it’s certainly not a mountain by any measure of that word’s definition, there’s nothing quite like Salvation Mountain in Calipatria, California. The iconic folk art “visionary environment” was built in the 1980s by Leonard Knight, after a hot air balloon he’d painted to spread the message “God Is Love” failed to take flight.

Leonard Knight, creator of Salvation Mountain in Niland, California on July 12, 2009Stephen Bures, Shutterstock

Making A Mountain Out Of A Molehill

Knight salvaged all kinds of materials, from hay bales to putty to adobe and housepaint to construct Salvation Mountain—only for it to collapse four years later. Undeterred, Knight built another iteration of the mountain, which is the one tourists visit today as they drive through the California desert.

Salvation Mountain - 2008Joe Decruyenaere, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Fluorescent Rocks of Sterling Hill Mine, New Jersey

When you first enter the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, New Jersey, you might wonder, “Why did I just pay admission to look at a bunch of rocks?” But then, as the guide turns out the overhead lights and turns on a black light, it’ll all make sense.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum, NJ, USA - 2008Vilseskogen, Flickr

Glow In The Dark

Suddenly, you’ll find yourself surrounded by glowing rocks in every color, as bright and vibrant as neon lights. The Sterling Hill Mining Museum has the largest publicly displayed collection of fluorescent rocks in the world, and it’s a psychedelic experience that can’t be missed.

Fluorescent rock -Sterling Hill Mining Museum, NJ, USA - 2008Vilseskogen, Flickr

Market Street Catacombs, Indiana

Why needs to go all the way to Paris to see catacombs when an impressive network runs right below the bustling City Market in Indianapolis, Indiana? The people combing through stalls looking for fresh produce and local specialties might not know it, but there’s actually a spooky network of tunnels right below their feet.

Market street catacombs Indiana - 2016Nate Davis, Flickr

Subterranean Homesick Blues

The catacombs date back to the 1880s, where they were used to transport and store perishable goods for the market before the days of refrigeration. While catacombs like this used to be far more common in the US, the Market Street Catacombs are one of few remaining examples of these types of subterranean passageways.

City Market Catacombs, Indianapolis - 2012Indiana Landmarks, Flickr

Musée Patamécanique, Rhode Island

The Musée Patamécanique in Bristol, Rhode Island is a weird attraction with a twist. It’s a fusion of a Cabinet of Curiosities (an eclectic collection of objects) and Automaton Theater (think an antique mechanical puppet show). You can get a tour by appointment—but finding it is another thing.

Artwork from the home page of the Musée Patamécanique museum - 2014Neil Salley, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Moving Museum

To enjoy the Musée Patamécanique, visitors meet at a predetermined location in Bristol, where a guide then provides guests with a map and wireless headphones before disappearing. The audio leads visitors on a tour of both indoor and outdoor objects that eventually ends with the “secret” location of the actual exhibition. Highlights include a machine that records the dreams of bumblebees, and a a device that claims to reconstitute digested foods.

Neil Salley stading in front of Earolin inside of Musée Patamécanique museum - 2014Neil Salley, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons


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